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A day at sea. Photo Credit Julien Barrier via Flickr

If you own a small business and don’t know what a Google Place Page is, you may be missing out on enticing new customers to venture through your front door.  Launched as an offshoot of Google Maps, Places Pages provide in-depth information about all kinds of places from within a Google Map and as part of a Google search.  A Google Places Page literally puts your business on the map and offers potential customers a quick peek inside.

Google Places has recently introduced significant changes to the look, feel, and function of Places pages in an effort to simplify the user experience and make Places Pages more valuable to businesses and users alike.  In addition to making the layout of each Places page cleaner and less cluttered, features like uploading photos and writing reviews are now easier to find and easier to use.  The new layout also changes how customer reviews are shown, removing review snippets from other sources and focusing review and rating counts on Google reviews only.

But the question on everyone’s mind is what does this mean for me and my business?  If I don’t have a Places page, do I need to get one?  How can I use my Places page to boost my visibility in local search results?  Here are six ways you can optimize your Google Places page and make sure the business that pops up on potential customer’s maps is yours.

1.  Claim Your Page

Make sure you are capitalizing on this free advertising resource by creating a Google Places Page for your business if you don’t already have one.  You will need a Google ID and can create one if needed as part of the process.  Creating your Places page is fairly simple, but it does require a validation process that can take a few weeks.  The benefits are worth the wait because this validation process lets every potential customer know the information on your businesses Places Page is legitimate.

2.  Check Your Information

When you go to claim your page, Google will check to make sure there isn’t a Places page already created for your address.  If one exists, you want to claim that page, go through the validation process, and make sure you have control of the Places page that is representing your business.  Be sure to check all the information on the existing page to ensure it is accurate, current, and representative of how you want your business to be presented.

This is an important step for newly created Places Pages too.  Once your Places Page is validated and available, check to make sure everything from your phone number to your map pointer position is correct.  This is one way new customers will find you, don’t make them go searching for the right phone number or they might end up finding someone else while they are looking.

3.  Use Pictures to Tell Your Story

One of the best ways to help potential customers get to know you is to use the photo slots available on your Places Page to shine a spotlight on the best things about your business.  With 10 photo slots available, there are several ways you can use pictures to tell your story.  If your business is all about customer service, using images of your smiling staff or your satisfied customers gives those who visit your Places Page an immediate sense for who you are and what it’s like to be your customer.  If your business is known for the most fabulous cupcakes in town, beautiful images of your delectable creations might be enough to entice a new customer to come in and see if they taste as good as they look.

4.  Use Videos to Bring Your Business to Life

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what can a video do for your business?  Where pictures can tell your story, videos can bring it to life.  By adding videos to your Places Page, you offer potential customers a view inside, a way to get to know you, your business, your employees, or your products without leaving their chair.  Use the five video slots available on your Places Page to bring viewers into your world and show them why they want you to be their dentist, florist, landscaper, grocer, photographer or mechanic.

5.  Keep Keywords in Mind

One of the most powerful things about every Google product is the ability to search and find what you are looking for quickly and easily.  Keep this in mind when you are completing your Google Places Page registration and when you are loading your photos and videos.  Use keyword specific words in your business description.  Choose or create keyword specific categories to describe your business.  When uploading photos and videos, make sure the titles are keyword specific.  In a world served-up by Google, keywords are king and using them appropriately will have your Google Places page popping up on the maps and in the search results of the people who are looking to buy what you are selling.

6. Get Reviewed and Rated

With the recent changes to Google Places, it is more important than ever to get your loyal, satisfied customers to turn their praise into prose and write a review for your business.  Solicit reviews from satisfied customers by asking them in your shop, on your website, and on your Facebook page.  Reviews are a key part of your Places page presence and tell customers that you aren’t the only one who thinks your company is great.



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